Cafe bar group Loungers has said it plans to open 10 new sites by the end of its financial year in April as the company hailed a strong rebound in customer demand.
Shares in the AIM-listed hospitality business rose after it reported that sales since reopening were significantly beyond pre-pandemic levels.
The group, which runs 150 independently named Lounge sites and 31 Cosy club restaurant-bars, said it has significantly outperformed the wider market since reopening venues indoors on May 17.
It reported that like-for-like sales jumped by 26.6% over the 20 weeks to October 3, against the comparable period in 2019.
Loungers said this was boosted by the VAT reduction for food and soft drinks but said its has seen continued “strength” in its performance despite the tax subsidy being relaxed.
The group said it plans to open 10 further sites over the rest of the financial year as it continues its ambitious growth plans.
Loungers said before the pandemic that it believes it has the potential to grow to about 500 sites across the UK.
It highlighted that it has already opened 13 new sites in the current financial year, including 12 Lounges and one Cosy Club.
Nick Collins, chief executive officer, said he has been “particularly pleased” by the performance of the new venues.
He added: “Our like for like sales have been consistently strong since re-opening, across all site age cohorts and both brands.
“Loungers continues to thrive as we put Covid behind us and manage the current challenges facing our sector.
“This success reinforces our roll-out strategy and we look ahead with confidence, with our pipeline of future sites as strong as it ever has been.
“I would like to say a special thank-you to our teams across England and Wales for their fantastic performance over what was a demanding summer trading environment.”
Shares were 3.7% higher at 303.3p in early trading.